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Production from the giant oil field Johan Sverdrup in Norway’s North Sea has reached a rate of above 200,000 barrels per oil per day, less than three weeks after start-up, operator Equinor said on Thursday, while the Sverdrup crude is already winning over clients in Asia.

Equinor had initially expected to start production from Johan Sverdrup—the North Sea giant as it calls it—in November. The Johan Sverdrup field was put in production earlier than that, on October 5, while five wells are currently producing oil, Equinor said in its Q3 results release today.

With expected resources of 2.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent, Johan Sverdrup is one of the largest discoveries on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) ever made and one of the largest industrial projects in Norway in the next fifty years, according to Equinor.

All eight pre-drilled wells at Johan Sverdrup are expected to be put in production by the end of next month, Equinor said today, noting that this would give the field a production capacity well above 300,000 bpd. Johan Sverdrup is expected to reach plateau production in the summer of 2020.

Daily production during the first phase of the Johan Sverdrup development is estimated at 440,000 bpd, while peak production is expected to reach 660,000 bpd. At peak production, Johan Sverdrup will account for 25 percent of Norway’s total petroleum production.  

The first cargo of Johan Sverdrup oil is expected to leave for customers in Asia this week, Equinor said at the beginning of this week. The first cargo contains on million barrels with a market value of around US$60 million. Future cargoes are expected to contain between 600,000 barrels and 2 million barrels, according to Equinor.

The Sverdrup crude is already a hit among Asian customers even before the first shipment. Chinese Unipec, an independent refiner in China, and South Korean Hyundai Oilbank have purchased cargoes of Johan Sverdrup for delivery in December, refinery officials and traders told Bloomberg this week. Sverdrup’s low sulfur content and medium-density perfectly fit the in-demand crude specifics in Asia right now, according to traders. The new grade is also cheaper than its immediate competitors with which it has been compared, Brazil’s Lula and Angola’s Saturno. If Asian refiners continue to like Sverdrup, Norway could take some market share from Brazil and Angola on the Asian market, according to Bloomberg.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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